I have been grappling with something.

In a time when many white people are coming to terms with white supremacy, fragility and privilege, I notice many of us are running away from the conversations or experiences we must fight head-on.

On social media, white friends are “canceling” or “unfriending” those they see as racist. This is not being anti-racist — this is another form of white privilege. …

In my career in a variety of leadership, coaching and board roles, I have reflected on what makes a great leader. What qualities and skills define greatness in leadership and how do those differ according to gender? Some might argue that the same attributes apply regardless of gender.

This has not been my experience.

Leadership greatness is measured in different ways when male leaders and female leaders are compared and contrasted. Many of the traits celebrated in male leaders are denounced in women leaders: confidence, brashness, assertiveness, and stoicism, for example.

Put simply, powerful women in both corporations and politics are often seen as unlikable. …

Dear Family and Friends,

I apologize for the blanket note but this is such a crazy time with so many people in need and I wanted to reach as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and sound and weathering this very scary time.

Although I am no longer CEO, I proudly serve on the Board of Directors of BUILD and do my best to be a thought-partner to BUILD’s extraordinary CEO, Ayele Shakur.

Today in speaking with Ayele, I felt such gratitude she is at the helm of the organization *and* was reminded of the magnitude of challenges BUILD students and alumni are facing. …

Before I heard that Bernie Sanders stepped out of the race, I received a text from a young Latina friend. She was devastated. She wrote that she was scared and had lost all hope for working class families. She needed reassurance and wanted to know where we go from here.

As a young immigrant who had overcome extraordinary obstacles to graduate from college and find meaningful employment, she felt like an outsider. Yet again.

Bernie, or Tio Bernie, as many young Latinx supporters called him, represented so much more than the media’s overused “democratic socialist” title. …

I’ve stopped watching CNN. I’ve turned off the New York Times alerts on my phone. I’ve tried very hard to not speak about the pandemic in front of my sensitive 10-year-old.

At the same time that the world slows down, I feel my heart speeding up. I recently learned stomach upset can be a first sign of Coronavirus, so at times I can be convinced that the anxiety I feel in my stomach means, “I have it!”

Many clients and friends have asked what I am doing daily.

I am breathing.

As a former CEO, notorious A type, and one who always feels I need to be “proving myself,” quiet is very hard for me. Slowing down is hard for me. Just breathing is hard for me. …

I read an article last week about a new study from Rutgers University that found that Black teenagers, on average, experience racism more than five times a day. The details of the study are powerful and can be found here: https://news.rutgers.edu/research-news/black-teens-face-racial-discrimination-multiple-times-daily-suffer-depressive-symptoms-result/20191211#.XhtqhMhKjD4.

The study made me think of my experiences working with Black teenagers from low-income communities over the last two decades, as well as experiences I had as a young child when my mother worked in Harlem as a public school teacher in the 1970 and 80s. Being an adolescent was hard, even then. Today, it is so much harder, with new ways to feel insecure and ostracized and to be teased. …

Why 10 is the Perfect Age to Travel Internationally

I start this post with acknowledgment that it’s written from a place of privilege. The fact that my family gets to travel internationally means that we inhabit a rare place in society. And yet, there are many others like us. And for them, I would say — if you have the opportunity to travel internationally with your children, you have a moral imperative to let them know the privilege they hold. And with that comes a responsibility to do things differently from others to change our childrens’ perspectives for the future.

Our family recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South Africa and Mozambique. We were celebrating my “retirement” after 20 years at www.BUILD.org going to my bucket list destination. In planning this trip, two weeks of which were with my husband and 15-year-old son and all four weeks with my 10-year-old daughter, I was often counseled that 10 was “ just too young” to appreciate such a trip. Well now, after having the experience, I can completely disagree. And not even that respectfully. …

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So You Want to Start a Non-Profit: The Five Most Important First Steps (including why you should not):

I am frequently asked how I started BUILD.org and how I advise others on founding nonprofit organizations.

My first piece of advice is always not to start one. There are over 1.5 million nonprofits and 95% of them will never reach a $10M budget and most struggle in the feast-or-famine cycle of nonprofit fundraising. …

College Admissions and the Fallacy of Meritocracy

by Emily Chang and Suzanne Klahr

The recent indictment of 50 affluent parents, test administrators, and coaches from elite schools exposes the hypocrisy our nation holds about a sacred yet illusory concept: Meritocracy.

For decades, those of us who have worked closely with under-resourced high school students, most of them Black and Latino, have seen them overcome overwhelming odds to get to college. Without resources, they have figured out which classes to enroll in, taken the SAT and ACT without private tutoring, applied to colleges they could not afford to visit before they arrived on campus for their first day of classes and worked full time in high school and college to support their families. …

Changing the World? Let’s Get Real.

As someone who has spent over two decades in the non-profit sector, I notice two trends lately. The first is that an alarming number of social entrepreneurs and non-profit founders are stepping down. Founders of organizations including Code 2040, Blue Engine, Education Pioneers, Genesys Works, Lift and Thinking Beyond Borders have either left or announced their intention to leave at the end of this year. …


Suzanne McKechnie Klahr, Esq.

Entrepreneur, Founder, Adjunct Professor, Operator and Advisor. I love impact, innovation and inspiration. www.smklahr.com

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